Friday, April 12, 2013

No. 419 – Heart Full of Soul

Performer: Rush
Songwriter: Graham Gouldman
Original Release: Feedback
Year: 2004
Definitive Version: none

I was pretty isolated from the outside world when I spent the fall of 2004 at Torch Lake, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was the culmination of my favorite year, but it still was lonely at times. Any mail was greatly appreciated, and it definitely was appreciated when a puffy package addressed from Dave showed up that contained a copy of Feedback (for archival purposes, of course).

I’m not a huge fan of cover tunes per se, and it seemed odd when Rush broke out three of them at their R30 show in Columbus earlier that summer. (This was one of the three.) But there was something about this particular song that grabbed me and stayed with me. When I made a mix CD to take with me to Cooperstown in February 2005, this song made the cut.

My three-week stay in Cooperstown, which I’ve mentioned briefly and will talk about at length later, was in a word magical. I mean, how can anyone NOT want to get up in the morning to “go to work” when the work involves walking through the Baseball Hall of Fame? That’s what I did for three weeks: Every day I drove into town—I stayed about four miles out of town—I parked where I could for free all day and then I hiked the few blocks to the Hall.

To get to the Hall library, you had to go through the Hall—a change from when I last had been in 1999. All I had to do was tell the guy at the admission desk that I was going to the library, and he let me through. (Needless to say, but I will anyway, the crowds aren’t very large at the Hall of Fame first thing in the morning in February.)

I had a lot to do at the library—literally hundreds of files to go through in only a few hours—so I didn’t dawdle. But every morning I stopped at the Johnny Bench and Babe Ruth plaques to pay proper homage. How could I not?

But, like all magical things, my time in Cooperstown had an expiration date. I booked a three-week stay at Countryside Lodging (since renamed), and as March closed in, it was time to go. On the one hand, I didn’t want to leave. On the other, I had accomplished my research goals, and I had only so much money to spend on room and board.

I left on pretty much the same type of day as when I arrived—bright, sunny and cold—and drove back to Cleveland. I again stayed with Jim and Denise for the night, just as I had on my way up. They hadn’t even bothered to change the sheets in the guest room—there had been no need!

The drive from Shaker Heights, the suburb where Jim and Denise lived, to downtown Cleveland is an interesting one. As you leave Downtown along Chester Avenue, you pass some pretty sad neighborhoods, barren lots and abandoned houses. It gets progressively better—working-class, then working-class but thriving. At University Circle where Case Western is, the street turns tree-lined and the neighborhoods upscale. You veer to the right at Cedar Road, and all of a sudden you’re on a street lined with decades-old mansions.

It’s every strata of wealth in a six-mile city-street drive. As I left that Sunday, heading downtown to drop off the books I borrowed from the Cleveland library three weeks earlier, I had this song on my car stereo.

Now, this close to home, I was eager to arrive. After being confined only to phone calls for the past three weeks, I was looking forward to seeing Laurie as soon as I could—as long as she would have me back again.

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